Gawker's Total FAIL with Christine O'Donnell

Syndicated

In the most repulsive news yet in one of the dirtiest election cycles in modern history, Gawker tried to shock! America with an anonymous “expose” on a sex-less sexcapade involving Delaware candidate for Senator Christine O’Donnell.

Gawker is determined to make the National Inquirer the gossip rag of record. Last week, they smeared O’Donnell with an attempt to turn her name into a sexual neologism at Jezebel, their site for women. Now, they pay a guy who supposedly made out with O’Donnell several Halloweens ago and got naked with her (I refuse to link to the story). Here's O'Donnell's response.

Delaware Republican senatorial candidate Christine O'Donnell speaks during a news conference in Centreville, Delaware, October 29, 2010. O'Donnell will face Democratic candidate Chris Coons in the November 2 election. REUTERS/Tim Shaffer (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS)

This article FAILS on a number of levels:

1. It shows Christine O’Donnell actually practices what she preaches. While some are probably offended that O’Donnell was allegedly nude, the woman has her boundaries. Even in a sleazy hit piece, Gawker couldn’t make O’Donnell a hypocrite.

2. This is a non-story. Consider Gawker’s primary audience. They (including myself) came of age with a president engaged in oral sex in the Oval Office. Drunk naked canoodling is frankly passé to the majority of readers.

3. The people who would actually be offended by this story aren’t going to be reading Gawker. Fundamentalist Christians are probably going to be bothered by the extent of O’Donnell’s alleged actions, but those are people who categorically think reading online outlets like Gawker is a sin. If anything, this shows the spectrum of values that exist among people who believe that sex outside of marriage is wrong. In many ways, the O’Donnell story feels like an example my youth pastor would have read from my high school church group.

4. Gawker managed to make O’Donnell approachable to the average Millenial. Younger voters are supposedly uninvolved in this election, but this actually makes O’Donnell more approachable to most people. Who hasn’t had too much to drink and engaged in regrettable behavior? That's a rite of passage for anyone, especially those under 35.

5. This guy is an absolute jerk. Most women would probably describe him in worse terms. This goes beyond kiss-and-tell. This guy was trying to make a Penthouse-worthy story out of a drunken hook-up. Commenting on very intimate details is only going to drum up sympathy for her. Most women have encountered creeps like this guy and can probably relate on some level.

6. Gawker managed to unify portions of the blogosphere that have never united before. As Allahpundit at Hot Air wrote:

I’m not linking the post — read Michelle’s take instead — but this is worth blogging anyway for the unusual degree of bipartisan contempt directed at the “scoop” in question. It’s not quite the entire blogosphere that’s cringing, but … it’s pretty close, including former Gawker editors, Media Matters fellows, and feminist bloggers. Even Donna Brazile has the dry heaves over it. Not a single word of any of the criticism will make Denton and Gawker think twice before doing it again to someone else, but don’t let that stop you from recognizing the good intentions of their critics.


7. It forced NOW’s hand. These are words I never envisioned typing, but kudos to NOW for actually taking a stand against sexism directed towards a female candidate. They ignored Gawker’s previous attacks on O’Donnell and participated in their own round of sexism. However, even NOW couldn’t look the other way with something so egregious, especially since this is so similar to the Krystal Ball situation. Liberal women were besides themselves on that one. Since Gawker managed to reach new levels of human refuse, they were backed in the corner.

You can practically feel the pain coming from the press person’s fingers as she typed this statement:

Sexist, misogynist attacks against women have no place in the electoral process, regardless of a particular candidate's political ideology.

Today the tabloid website Gawker published an anonymous piece titled "I Had A One-Night Stand With Christine O'Donnell" that takes the routine sexual degradation of women candidates to a disgusting new low. NOW repudiates Gawker's decision to run this piece. It operates as public sexual harassment. And like all sexual harassment, it targets not only O'Donnell, but all women contemplating stepping into the public sphere.

NOW/PAC has proudly endorsed women's rights champion Chris Coons, O'Donnell's opponent in the Delaware Senate race, and finds O'Donnell's political positions dangerous for women. That does not mean it's acceptable to use slut-shaming against her, or any woman.

NOW has repeatedly called out misogyny against women candidates, and this election season is no different. Let me be honest: I look forward to seeing Christine O'Donnell defeated at the polls, but this kind of sexist attack is an affront to all women, and I won't stand for it.

I’ll trust NOW about as far as you can throw Gloria Steinem, but good for them for actually standing up for women.

It amazes me that one publication will go to such lengths to bring down a candidate. I hope that working at Gawker becomes a black mark on a resume. The people who peddle such trash shouldn’t have any future in the world of journalism.

Attacks like this highlight the problem of sexism in the media. It backfired on Gawker, but it makes men and women across the country realize that this is a very real problem facing candidates.

Lastly, does this make O’Donnell a cougar? Cougars are very in right now.

Update: Lori Ziganto at Red State presents an interesting perspective on NOW's use of the phrase slut shaming. Meanwhile, Double X appears to wonder what the hullabaloo is all about.

Adrienne works in the conservative movement and blogs at Cosmopolitan Conservative.

BlogHer is nonpartisan but our bloggers aren't! Read all our posts on the midterm elections.

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